I was sad to see that Chippenham’s Lib Dem MP, Duncan Hames, voted in parliament on 21st January against a proposal from the Labour Party that a statutory code should be introduced to ensure pub landlords are no longer exploited in their relationship with pub companies.
Labour is asking that the Government introduces legislation in this year’s Queen’s Speech to support local pubs. An estimated 26 pubs are closing each week in Britain and the large chains of pub companies (PubCos) have been accused of giving landlords a raw deal, with many paying over the odds for their alcoholic products.
Two years ago the House of commons passed a motion calling for such a code, and a year later in January 2013 ministers committed to introducing one – but 12 months later have still failed to do so; this latest vote suggests they have no intention of legislating to protect local pubs.
Pub campaigners are asking that a legally enforceable code should include a free-of-tie option, open market rent reviews and an independent pubs adjudicator. This would give every landlord the choice to go free-of-tie, allowing licencees to operate in a more competitive market.
I believe that pubs are vital hubs for communities and are valued strongly by local people. Pub closures costs jobs, especially for young people, and hits the local economy by an average of £80,000 each time a pub shuts. In small towns and villages it also takes away an important focus for community life.
We need to back our local pubs. That’s why, it’s time for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to take real action to support small landlords otherwise Wiltshire risks losing more pubs, and more jobs.
Published and promoted by Chippenham Labour Party on behalf of Andy Newman, both of 5 Elm Hayes, Corsham, SN13 9JW